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An Ethnography
of a Chiropractic Clinic

Chapter 2: General Chiropractic History,
Philosophy, Associations, and the Law

© 1975
James B. Cowie, PhD
Julian B. Roebuck, PhD

Traditionally, in any sociological work dedicated to the analysis of a specific problem, a review of the historical development of the social phenomena under investigation is given. This material is stated as comprehensively as possible by the researcher and ideally in strictly objective terms.

In the attempt to adhere to the stated principles and objectives of a symbolic interactional analysis as discussed in Chapter 1, the following review of chiropractic will be related primarily from the point of view of the central figure in the behavior setting of the Clinic under study: the chiropractor himself. Although this approach may at first seem to have its limitations, it can be justified.

Basically, actors in any social situation use as an orientation for behavior their interpretations of ground rules relative to the perceived biographies of all significant other persons who are relative to that setting. For the Clinic practitioner, these significant others included not only those persons with whom he had direct interactional contact in the physical setting (i.e., patients, assistants and, at times, fellow practitioners), but also those persons whom he saw as having contributed to the development of his profession. The leaders of chiropractic espouse a more or less total philosophy of life as well as chiropractic practice, and for this reason they are viewed collectively as a major reference group for most chiropractors.

When recalling the history and philosophy of chiropractic, the Clinic practitioner would frequently quote from the writings of these men. The practitioner's library mainly consisted of philosophical treatises on various chiropractic Subjects. This material, termed methodographical source material, was referred to more often than all other writings, including books on physiology or adjustment techniques.


Buchler, in his Concept of Method, draws an interesting distinction between the terms methodology and methodography [1]. Although both generally refer to the articulation of methods by the professional, methodology -- in this case the chiropractic method -- consists of the techniques of (1) spinal manipulation for treatment, and (2) impression management (the social front) in the behavior setting. Methodography, on the other hand, refers to the "practitioner's discrimination of his methodic process and its aspects" [1:129] This entails situational and self-evaluation.

Buchler uses as his examples both the scientist and the artist, although the chiropractor or any other professional social actor may be discussed in this context. Modifying Buchler's scheme to fit the chiropractic situation, methodography has a three-fold importance: (1) it enables the practitioner to detect the repeatable elements in his practice, (2) it can stimulate the structure and facilitate interaction between himself and other sympathetic practitioners, and (3) it can serve as supportive data for the practitioner who maintains that only those who have been "dipped" or converted to the philosophy of chiropractic are in a position to engage in abstract study [1:128].

It is from this methodographic activity that the chiropractor seeks to modify, explain, and at times, rationalize as to make it coherently present this behavior in such a way as to make it coherently presentable to himself and to others. Thus, constructing a chiropractic history from the standpoint of the practitioner necessarily involves the raising of that actor to the traditionally elevated position of the professional researcher [2].

The following brief account of chiropractic history and philosophy is based primarily upon lengthy discussions with the practitioner and his full-time assistant. Although written in a formal prose style for the reader's convenience, the material itself was gathered informally in an unstructured behavior setting. Despite McCorkle's statement that there does not exist "a satisfactory history of chiropractic" [3:21], Turner [4], Dye [5], and Wardwell [6] supply a wealth of background data.

The authors, having read widely on chiropractic history and philosophy, became increasingly impressed, throughout the duration of the study, that the practitioner was extremely well informed and accurate in his descriptions of chiropractic history. This supports Wardwell's observation that a major portion of chiropractic training includes a thorough knowledge of chiropractic history and philosophy [3:99].

It should be noted that chiropractic education consists mainly of philosophy. In the colleges approved by the Chiropractic Council of Education, a normal four-year curriculum includes courses in human anatomy, physiology, pathology, physical therapy, first aid, spinal analysis, and adjustment techniques. The practitioner, however, repeatedly emphasized, as did the other chiropractors interviewed, that in all courses, even dermatology, a systematic attempt is made to present all material in light of the Principle: the result is a fairly unified body of training held together with Innate Intelligence.

In the following account, only occasionally was it necessary to elaborate upon the information supplied. Where this is done, it is so noted. With minor exceptions all material, quoted or otherwise, came directly from the practitioner or from written material suggested by him for my edification. All material was discussed with him at length to assure an accurate recording of his interpretations and conceptions of chiropractic.

In the strict sense of the term, the material is subjective as compared to so-called objective reviews of the literature cited above. It is biased in those directions that the practitioner felt most adequately expressed his conception of chiropractic and his position in the field. Most popular reviewers of chiropractic, for example, tend to emphasize its history at the expense of its philosophical beliefs. Yet, the practitioner, in terms of relative significance, saw it otherwise.

The following material is presented in a straightforward fashion without any of the emotional overtones with which it was sometimes originally related. The chiropractor, when introducing the author to the history and principles of his profession, often became evangelical in his presentation. For the most part, his missionary zeal has been omitted. Specific interpretations and situational applications of this material are to be found in later chapters which deal with the specifics of the behavior setting, for instance, those interactional patterns initiated by the practitioner and his staff which serve to make presentable to all other actors their definition of the situation from which the following information is inextricable.


The Origins of Chiropractic: The Trinity of Giants

Chiropractors seem to adhere to the "great man" theory of history at least as far as the development of their profession is concerned. Almost invariably, any treatment of the history by sympathetic chroniclers traces the origin of chiropractic to the year 1895. In that year, in Davenport, Iowa, chiropractic was discovered.

Daniel David Palmer: Discoverer of Chiropractic. Of English ancestry, having emigrated from Canada, D.D. Palmer settled in Davenport, Iowa, and although self-educated, worked at several occupations including grocer, teacher, and magnetic healer. The latter interest stemmed from the influence of Paul Caster, who espoused magnetic healing based upon the notion of animal magnetism made popular by the Austrian physician Anton Mesmer.

Palmer practiced magnetic healing successfully for ten years before, his "Monumental Discovery" of the chiropractic principle. One author, however, maintains that Palmer actually rediscovered principles which were known to "the Greeks, Ancient Egyptians, Chinese and Hindus, more than thirty-two centuries ago" [7]. A similar claim is made by Dintenfass [8].

Wardwell's comment [6] that Palmer's account of his first adjustment is "as well known to chiropractors as the biblical story of Eve's creation" is supported by the practitioner's accurate recollection of most of the details in Palmer's account. In Palmer's words:

Harvey Lillard, a janitor in the Ryan block where I had my office, had been so deaf for 17 years that he could not hear the racket of a wagon on the street or the ticking of a watch. I made inquiry as to the cause of his deafness and was informed that when he was exerting himself in a cramped, stooping position, he felt something give way in his back and immediately became deaf. An examination showed a vertebra racked from its normal position. I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man's hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half-hour's talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position by using the spinous process as a lever and soon the man could hear as before. There was nothing "accidental" about this as it was accomplished with an end in view, and the result expected was obtained. There was nothing "crude" about this adjustment; it was specific, so much so that no Chiropractor has equaled it [9:128].

A local Davenport minister and friend of Palmer's, Samuel H. Weed, coined the term "chiropractic" from the Greek words cheir ("hand") and praxis ("practice"). Now named and more or less defined, chiropractic as an organized profession developed slowly in its early years. Practicing for several years in a semisecret manner, Palmer was apparently reluctant to reveal the nature of his technique except to members of his family and close friends.

At the insistence of his son, Bartlett Joshua Palmer -- affectionately referred to by the practitioner and most others in his profession as "BJ" -- the elder Palmer agreed to expand his practice. In 1897, the Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic Institute was founded in Davenport.

Although there seems to be some disagreement in the available literature on chiropractic history, the practitioner insisted that Palmer was eventually imprisoned in 1906 for a period of six months for practicing medicine without a license. (Although Dye [5] does not mention this fact, it is supported hy Turner [4]. The practitioner indicated that he had learned it somewhere at college, and look great pride in relating this fact of persecution.) In that same year "BJ," apparently much more of a businessman than his father, gained controlling interest in the school. Other schools were established in these early years, most of them realizing moderate success.

In 1910, when affiliated with the Pacific College of Chiropractic in Portland, Oregon, Palmer wrote his classic textbook, The Chiropractor's Adjustor: A Textbook of the Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic for Students and Practitioners, which laid out for the first time the truths upon which the profession bases its existence. In spite of this text's early date (or perhaps because of it), the practitioner frequently referred to it as a main source of information and support as he did with other texts of similar vintage. The early work was reissued in 1914 by the National Chiropractic Association.

"BJ" Palmer: Developer of Chiropractic. Born in 1881 in What Cheer, Iowa, "BJ," like his father, was largely self-educated. Later, he became one of the four students in the Palmer School of Chiropractic (class of 1902). Assisted by his wife, who was the first woman chiropractor, the school prospered.

Often described as one of the most colorful and controversial personalities in chiropractic, "BJ" was also a writer. By 1910 he had written five books on chiropractic. He aided in the foundation of the first chiropractic association. At the time of his death, he was president of two broadcasting companies, which are both still operating in Iowa as well as president of the Palmer School and the International Chiropractic Association. Extravagant in his fervor, "BJ" combined worldwide travel, extensive lecture tours, and active participation in courtroom battles ("He fought courageously"), bringing widespread attention and excitement to this "revolutionary" form of health care practice.

Willard Carver: Preventive Chiropractic. Another native Iowan, Carver practiced law for a number of years, specializing in negligence cases. His knowledge of human physiology led him to study chiropractic with D.D. Palmer. Carver is honored for his "distortion-by-compensation" studies in which he "evaluated the mechanical behavior of the spine and pelvis under all normal and abnormal conditions." He maintained that "not only spinal subluxations (displacements) but also distortions of any and all bodily structures create ail environment favorable to the development of dis-ease." ("Dis-ease" is a chiropractic play on words; the traditional term "disease" is rejected since it implies the presence of germs.)

Conscientious care and maintenance of the body, which includes correct posture through periodic chiropractic adjustment, can prevent the occurrence of dis-ease (from a section read to me by the practitioner from Dintenfass [8:140]. Although Carver is probably the least discussed person of the three, his contribution is significant and deserves attention since his rationalization of preventive chiropractic serves its the mainstay of the practices of many chiropractors today, including that of the Clinic's practitioner.

These three individuals, D.D. Palmer, B.J. Palmer, and Willard Carver, are often referred to as the Trinity of Giants In the development of chiropractic. Others of lesser importance are mentioned throughout the literature as having pioneered in diverse ways, for instance, raising educational standards, introducing the X-ray technique, and refining the methods of adjustment.

David D. Palmer, the grandson of the founder of chiropractic, is currently the president of Palmer College. He serves primarily in the capacity of administrator and is not a controversial or outspoken individual. Little reference was made to him by the practitioner as a contemporary spokesman of chiropractic. There are, however, prominent individuals today who serve in the capacity of leaders in the profession, The relationship between the practitioner and these influential persons will be the subject of a later section.

The early history of chiropractic is full of quarrels. There are several accounts of the many disagreements between "BJ" and his father. These stories were related to me by the practitioner with humorous understanding. He referred to them as "friendly hostilities" and "growing pains." According to him:

What can you expect? This idea [D.D. Palmer's discovery] was completely new . . . revolutionary! Just trying to understand what it was, was hard enough. Words had to be invented. They had to figure out a way to teach it to others. Old "BJ" sure had his work cut out for him. Sure they fought: They fought hard to make it what it is today.

While there were serious disagreements concerning the practical aspect of becoming recognized, there was, and for the most part still is, strong agreement on the central, unifying, philosophical idea of chiropractic: the body's inborn ability to heal itself or its Innate Intelligence.


Chiropractic philosophy holds that a Universal Intelligence (the practitioner said, "Call it God if you want to if it makes it easier to understand") created and is maintaining the entire universe. The manifestation of this Intelligence is called Life. The following extracts are from one of the practitioner's college textbooks -- Ralph W. Stephenson's Chiropractic Textbook, 1948 edition -- which was given to me during my first days its assistant in the Clinic. Much of the practitioner's teaching was given support by frequent reference to this source. The italic type in the extracts is neither Stephenson's nor mine, but indicates underlining by the practitioner, denoting special significance for him.

A specific portion of this intelligence, localized in a definite portion of matter and keeping it actively organized, is called by Chiropractic, Innate Intelligence. . . .

From [the brain] Innate Intelligence sends its controlling forces via the spinal cord through the nerve trunks emitting from the spinal cord and passing through the intervertebral foramina to nerve branches ramifying to all parts of the body. Perfect adaptation of universal elements for this body, depends upon perfect control by Innate Intelligence. Perfect adaptation results in health, and imperfect control results in dis-ease . . . .

Owing to the spinal column being the only segmented structure of bone through which the nerve trunks pass, and the possibility of the displacement of its segments, changing the size and shape of the intervertebral foramina, it is possible for subluxations to occur there and offer interference with the transmission of Innate forces indirectly, if not directly. All dis-ease is thus traceable to impingements of nerve tissue in the spinal column. Chiropractic is a science which consists in having scientific knowledge of this cause of dis-ease and the artistic ability to adjust and correct these displacements of the segments of the spinal column, thereby removing interference with the transmission of Innate forces. Adjustment does not add any material or forces to the body but allows Innate to restore to normal what it would have had, had there been no interference. . . .

Chiropractic includes the study of all life. . . . our studies, . . . will be in regard to the human Innate Intelligence [10].

With regard to the study of all life, I asked the practitioner if this referred to the study of parts of the living body and all the different kinds of illnesses that it was subject to. He replied that I had missed the point. He insisted that the chiropractor is concerned with all of human activity, "not just the condition of our bodies -- that's just the beginning -- but we have something to say about everything we humans do here on earth."

During our study of the above passages together, the practitioner reminded me that chiropractic is defined as both an art ("the artistic ability to adjust and correct . . . displacements") and a science. He repeatedly emphasized that chiropractic philosophy is a science with it set of terms all its own. Reading to me from Stephenson's text, he warned:

It is quite natural to fail to see the logic of Chiropractic at first. . . . A closer acquaintance with it, however, reveals the absolute truth of its principles . . . . Deductive reasoning is exactly suited to Chiropractic. By assuming a major premise, that there is it Universal Intelligence which governs all matter, every inference drawn from that major premise and subjected to specific scrutiny, stands the test [10:xx-xxii].

In Appendix B, I have included a list of thirty-three principles of chiropractic philosophy from Stephenson's text. Hopefully these will help summarize what is otherwise a complex and confusing set of ideas. and should also serve to introduce additional terminology.

Chiropractic and Religion

One of the topics most frequently discussed by the practitioner was that of the relationship between chiropractic and religion. As will be seen, this topic was often raised by patients.

D.D. Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, extended the religious aspects of that philosophy only as far as that which he termed "subjective religion," which simply referred to the moral and ethical obligations of the practitioner. "BJ," however, in his missionary zeal, conceived of a chiropractic utopia. In many respects his philosophy may be thought of as a secular religion in that it is all-encompassing in its worldview; it has implications for the totality of social existence. Once again, referring to the textbook, the practitioner read to me:

In accordance with the hopeful idea given by the Universal Cycle, Dr. Palmer's love for the human race and solicitude for the suffering, lead him to hold that chiropractors have a great mission to perform. Not to improve the basic law -- this is impossible -- but to remove any negative obstructions brought about by perversions of that law, to the further end of a greater and freer expression of what the law of cycles demands in every phase and attribute. If Chiropractic would be allowed to do this, an ideal state of affairs could be brought nearer. This state of affairs which is not impossible for chiropractors to bring about, if they had the chance, would approach the ideal. An ideal state of sociology [sic] is a utopia.

An ideal sociological state would he a country or a world without sickness, insanity, blindness, feeble-minded people, deaf and dumb, backward children, social evils, abnormal reproduction, etc. If chiropractic were given a chance to do its miracles and reasonable time allowed for the results to be brought about, it could do much; more than any other human agency has done or can do, in reducing the above named abnormalities to a minimum. This would be a great economic saving, because there could be fewer public and charitable institutions and penal institutions [10:336-337].

When I asked the practitioner about the meaning of the term Cycle, he explained that it was one of the absolute laws in chiropractic philosophy, and that it refers to all evolutionary changes in the universe.

Although this account may seem to reflect the extremism and conviction of a dedicated follower, "BJ," in his comments in the opening pages of this text, gives his wholehearted approval and endorsement: "Of all the books written and compiled on Chiropractic Philosophy, this is by far the best, not excepting my own" [10:27].

Obviously, this is chiropractic philosophy in its extreme. These views were firmly held, however, by the Clinic's practitioner and were the subject of much methodographic conversation and speculation.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to document the impact of these thoughts on chiropractic today merely by reviewing the available literature. Yet the practitioner was heavily influenced n this direction, and It must be assumed -- he stated so himself -- that advocating these extreme views was an integral part of the learning experience at the Palmer School of Chiropractic.

Not all chiropractors, however, adhere to this radical view of the ameliorative powers of chiropractic. Indeed, there exists a division within the profession. Although joined by a common allegiance to a fundamental set of definitive notions concerning the basic nature of chiropractic adjustment, the degree to which the practitioner should make use of other clinical techniques is subject to heated controversy.


During the course of my training, the practitioner was very concerned that I clearly understood the difference between the "true" form of chiropractic and a corruption of it.

The International Chiropractic Association

The ICA, one of the two major national chiropractic associations, is composed of practitioners who adhere to the straight chiropractic belief (as did the Clinic's practitioner) that chiropractors should limit their techniques to spinal adjustment and "let the natural Innate Intelligence of the body take care of itself." Any attempt to incorporate "unnatural" elements into the adjustment process is considered chiropractically improper and in many cases harmful in that they may actually work against or slow down the natural healing powers of the body.

The American Chiropractic Association
(Previously, the National Chiropractic Association)

The ACA, the second major professional organization, which the practitioner derogatorily referred to as a mixer group, does sanction the use of various techniques, such as heat therapy, enemas (politely referred to as the Colonic Irrigation Technique), specific exercise programs, regulated diet, and electric modalities. The use of these forbidden techniques indicates to the straight chiropractor that there exists the danger that the profession as a whole may eventually sell out to the medical opposition.

The Cleavage. As Wardwell has observed:

Organized chiropractic is a "shaky structure" due to small membership, the split between straights and mixers, and the lack of any realistic dependence by it practitioner upon the high regard of his colleagues in order to achieve professional success [6:342].

As a means of increasing my awareness of this cleavage, the practitioner referred me to the official definitions of chiropractic held by each organization. The International Chiropractic Association has defined chiropractic as follows:

The philosophy of chiropractic is based upon the premise that disease or abnormal function is caused by interference with nerve transmission and expression, due to pressure, strain, or tension upon the spinal cord or spinal nerves, as a result of bony segments of the vertebral column deviating from their normal juxtaposition.

The practice of chiropractic deals with the analysis of any interference with normal nerve transmission and expression, the procedure preparatory to, and complementary to the correction thereof, by an adjustment of the articulations for the restoration and maintenance of health; it includes the normal regimen and rehabilitation of the patient without the use of drugs or surgery [11:4,6].

The American Chiropractic Association's definition of chiropractic reads as follows:

Chiropractic practice is the specific adjustment and manipulation of the articulations and adjacent tissues of the body, particularly of the spinal column, for the correction of nerve interference and includes the use of recognized diagnostic methods. . . . Patient care is conducted with due regard for environmental, nutritional, and psychotherapeutic factors, as well its first aid, hygiene, sanitation, rehabilitation and related procedures designed to restore or maintain normal nerve function [12].

The Clinic's practitioner was an avowed disciple of the "true philosophy of straight chiropractic," referring to the mixer in the lowest of terms, as "worse than the medicine man" because he "had been taught the truth once, but now he has to be a big shot and play golf at the country club and make a million bucks." According to the practitioner, the medical doctor operates out of ignorance; the mixer from selfish greed. "He [the mixer] knows that people will pay more when you can impress them with gadgets and pills. It's what patients have been taught to expect."


The practitioner was well aware of the legal dangers of mixing chiropractic with other treatment procedures since the foremost occupational hazard confronting the chiropractor is violation of the law.

From time to time both associations issue warnings and various forms of legal advice to their members. Even the ICA, purportedly the standard-bearer of straight chiropractic, recognizes the danger of law violation. In its Confidential Legal Protection Handbook (shown to me by the practitioner) the ICA cautions against the use or prescription of "devices, substances or measures which constitute therapies in and of themselves." This clearly is in accordance with the straight approach to chiropractic. Yet, further on, the handbook states:

When Chiropractic patients require other therapy, the chiropractor should therefore unhesitatingly refer such cases to those who are qualified to render such service by training and experience.

Clearly a dilemma confronted the practitioner. Although he specifically rejected the germ theory of disease and the accompanying drug combatants advocated by the medical profession, he remained liable, in the eyes of the law, if he failed to recommend the seriously ill patient to an establishment physician [11].

Chiropractic Licensure

The practitioner took great pride in relating to me the history of licensure in the United States. "As you can see, we've had a long hard battle."

Organized medicine, in the 1880's, succeeded in enacting the Medical Practice Act in all of the states. In almost all instances, these acts were defined in terms of medical and surgical techniques deemed appropriate by established Western medical practitioners. Penalties were established for practicing medicine without a license. From the early years of chiropractic development to the present day, thousands of prosecutions (the practitioner preferred the term "persecutions") have been brought against those in the profession.

In 1913, Kansas was the first state to pass a law regulating the practice of chiropractic. Since that time all states, the most recent being Louisiana, have passed laws regulating chiropractic licensure. Not very long ago, about half of Louisiana's chiropractors were taken into court at one time on the charge of practicing medicine without a license. The chiropractors instituted an action against the state board of medical examiners. Eventually brought before the Supreme Court, it was denied a petition for rehearing. The possibilities of licensure in Louisiana appeared slim until the enactment of legislation in 1974. The Louisiana Act -- the most recent in the nation -- is generally indicative of regulations in other states.

The practitioner was quick to point out to patients the various governmental and nongovernmental programs under which chiropractic is included. They may serve as an indicator of the present growth and status of the profession to date.

1. Federal Government Programs

a. Medicaid. Congress authorized chiropractic services under Medicaid, Title XIX of the Social Security Act. At this time, at least eighteen states provide chiropractic care tinder Medicaid.

b. Federal Civil Service. All Federal departments and agencies accept statements from doctors of chiropractic for sick leave of any federal employee.

c. Income Taxes. The Federal government permits medical deductions for chiropractic health services tinder Federal income tax law.

d. Immigration Law. The Federal government recognizes chiropractic colleges as a basis for admitting, aliens into the United States with special status as students.

2. State Government Programs

a. Licensure. Chiropractic is an officially recognized health profession in all fifty states, the District Of Columbia, and in Puerto Rico. Each of these states or jurisdictions has specific laws defining the practice of chiropractic, prescribing requirements for licensure, and authorizing chiropractic services and care.

b. Workmen's Compensation. Claims for chiropractic care are paid by Workmen's Compensation in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

3. Non-Government Programs

a. Commercial Insurance. Many commercial insurance companies (including most of the private carriers used to administer medicare) include chiropractic in their health and accident policies.

b. Health and Welfare Funds of Labor Unions. Many health and welfare programs of labor unions include chiropractic care [11:17-18].

The Response to Licensure

While most mixers herald the fact of nationwide licensure (and the mixer interviewed in this study was no exception), the Clinic's practitioner, being a straight chiropractor, discovered this kind of stringent regulation to be a handicap to his professional activity and livelihood. He saw the definite danger of chiropractic becoming "watered down" by those chiropractors who seek to align themselves with the medical opposition for purposes of achieving professionalism. Now that chiropractic is legal and regulated, the practitioner saw the possibility of the profession losing its unique qualities. One day, he angrily observed:

Many of them [the mixers] have lost sight of the Principle. Chiropractic is headed for deep trouble if we don't watch out. Those goddamned mixers are doing everything they can to make us look like medical doctors.

According to one contemporary chiropractic spokesman in a statement shown me by the practitioner as found in one of the chiropractic magazines located in his waiting room:

Chiropractic reached a peak in the fall of 1922 when the enrollment at Palmer School of Chiropractic was 3600 students. When I attended in 1923, enthusiasm for chiropractic was expressed by all students. They could hardly wait to begin their practice, or to tell the world about the chiropractic principle and its potentialities for getting sick people well. They were proud to be chiropractors and wanted the world to know it. They had explicit faith in the principles of chiropractic and were undaunted by opposition. As a consequence, many went to jail or served time in work houses but they were ready to lay down their lives for the truth as they saw it [11].

In the years that followed, however, a definite decrease in interest and enrollment was experienced in chiropractic schools. It became quite obvious that the profession had lost something and the problem remained as to what could be done to recapture the spirit and enthusiasm that once had characterized it.


Today. one of the acknowledged leaders of those chiropractors who advocate the straight or "natural -approach to chiropractic philosophy and practice is Sid E. Williams, D.C., a friend and advisor to the Clinic's practitioner.

According to the practitioner, and to several chiropractic magazine articles given to me by him, Dr. Sid -- as he is known in the profession -- was a former football star. Having received a serious injury, he was so successfully cured of it through chiropractic that he entered the profession. He now leads a vanguard movement which espouses the notion of Dynamic Essential with which he purports to express and revitalize the Great Principle discovered by the elder Palmer. His stated goal is to instill in chiropractors the "dedication . . . of D.D. Palmer, his son B.J., and grandson David Palmer." He urges them to "reach for the stars, and the 'space ship of dynamic motivation' will take you to unprecedented heights." Williams further promises a "redirected life that can lead . . . to day-by-day success, happiness, and prosperity like you've dreamed possible." [14]

Realizing the necessity of a dynamic public relations program, his professed intention is to "carry the message" to the people. As founder and president of the "non-profit" organization, The Life Foundation, Williams publishes the periodical Health for Life, which is mailed by chiropractors to potential patients" and was found on the waiting room tables of all three chiropractors interviewed in this study. This tactic neatly avoids many of the advertising restrictions imposed by most states.

An avid organizer, Williams promotes several "D. E. Jubilees" and "Homecomings" in major cities throughout the year. Judging from the promotional descriptions of these occasions which appear in chiropractic trade magazines and from the practitioner's eye-witness testimony, these meetings are characterized by a revivalistic spirit. According to the practitioner, "when we [wives, children, and assistants are couraged to attend] come back from seeing these great people at one of these meetinus, I'm up for a month. He's the guiding spirit in chiropractic today."

In addition to being a highly successful businessman, Dr. Sid serves as troubleshooter for chiropractors around the country, giving free advice on the running of a practice and offering personal encouragement and spiritual support.

The Clinic's practitioner drew heavily upon the encouragement and words of advice from this supportive other person in such a way that when personal and professional difficulties arose for him, sympathetic understanding and, at times, ameliorative actions were available. His relationship with Dr. Sid as a supportive other will receive attention in a later section dealing with backstage behavior.

This chapter has dealt with a general overview of the history, philosophy, and current development of chiropractic primarily as it was perceived by the practitioner in the Clinic. Accuracy is not the main concern here, although all information received from the practitioner was checked against fairly objective literature for errors or distortions. But, of central importance is the manner in which the practitioner selectively perceived the information made available to him through his training and experience and how he passed this information on to me. By such an accumulation of data, the practitioner, as researcher, was enabled to methodographically assess, rationalize, and modify his methodology in the behavior setting. Indeed, the behavior setting itself, as defined in Chapter 1, is determined, for the most part, by the practitioner's inethodographic activity both prior to and during his practice.

The following chapter is devoted to a descriptive analysis of the spacial and temporal properties of the Clinic as a behavior setting.


1. Buchler J. The Concept of Method. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961.
2. Zimmerman DH, Polner M. 1970. The everyday world as a phenomenon. In Douglas JD, editor. Understanding Everyday Life. Chicago: Alidine, 1970, pp 80-103.
3. McCorkle T. Chiropractic: A deviant theory of disease and treatment in contemporary Western culture. Human Organization 20(1):46-62, 1961.
4. Turner C. The Rise of Chiropractic. Los Angeles: Power, 1931.
5. Dye AA. The Evolution of Chiropractic: Its Discovery and Development. Philadelphia: privately published, 1939.
6. Wardwell WI. Social Strain and Social Adjustment in the Marginal Role of the Chiropractor. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Department of Social Relations, 1951.
7. Scofield AG. Chiropractic: The Science of Specific Spinal Adjustment. London: Thorsons, 1968.
8. Dintenfass J. Chiropractic: A Modern Way, to Health. New York: Pyramid Book, 1970.
9. Palmer DD. The Chiropractor's Adjuster: A Textbook of the Science, Art, and Philosophy of Chiropractic for Students and Practitioners. Portland, OR: Portland Printing House Co., 1910.
10. Stephenson RW. Chiropractic Textbook. Davenport, IA: The Palmer School of Chiropractic, 1948.
11. International Chiropractic Association. Confidential Legal Protection Handbook. Indianapolis: International Chiropractors Insurance Company., no date given.
12. AMA data sheet, 1970.
13. Sims LB. The birth of Dynamic Essential, Today's Chiropractic 1(1):10, 1972.
14. Williams SE. Advertisement in Today's Chiropractic 2(3):24, 1973.

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